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Projects Cross Cutting Themes Teaching and Learning

Martha Wegewitz, Technical University Berlin, Faculty VI - Planning Building Environment, Urban and Regional Planning.

In a collective research process, the loss and restriction of places of everyday activity in the context of financialised urban development will be investigated at a specific location in Berlin. This will be linked to the results of a research and mapping seminar and a one-week mapping camp will be held. The central method is mapping as an integrative and synthesising research method that spatially combines quantitative and qualitative data.

Spokepersons: Dr Philipp Popp, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and Dr Jakob Korbel, Technische Universität Berlin

Virtual reality (VR) offers a novel free-space to rethink academical teaching. Enabling the possibility to perform on-hands microbiological techniques that would surpass the capacities of classical university practical courses is but one aspect highlighting the advantages of VR. In this X-Student project we will re-think an existing VR explaining a microbiological technique used to study antibiotic resistance development in bacteria. Ultimately, a questionnaire based case study comparing the VR approach with classical teaching techniques will be performed. We aim to scientifically unravel the potential of VR as valid teaching tool in biology and beyond. 

Fiona Katherine Smith, Tobias Stefan, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Kultur-, Sozial- und Bildungswissenschaftliche Fakultät, Asien- und Afrikawissenschaften

What is food culture and how is this defined in both local and transregional discourses of ownership, nation-building, and authenticity? How is Asian Cuisine viewed from various gazes? How is Asia imagined through food? How do actors seek representation and authority in food culture discourses? Following a preparatory phase (Week 1-5) in which the students are introduced to debates surrounding food culture and decolonial research methods, and a series of public guest lectures from various local actors who share their indigenous food culture with the students, as well as other researchers on different food cultures in Asia (Week 6-10), the students conduct their own research on a self-selected Asian recipe (Week 11-13); preparing for the final presentations. The semester concludes with a multimedia presentation of the visual research outputs. The X-StuRG is especially suited to students of Area Studies, Ethnology/Anthropology, History, Social Sciences, Political Sciences, Food Technology, and Nutrition.

Martin Schlecht, Technical University of Berlin, Faculty I - Humanities and Educational Sciences, Vocational Education and Work Studies

This seminar is divided into three thematic areas: Foraging and Identifying Mushrooms: Depending on the weather, we will embark on several excursions into the forests of Berlin and Brandenburg. The goal is to also connect these excursions with significant places in Berlin's history. Cultivating Mushrooms: Learning and experimenting with practical aspects of mushroom cultivation, including the types that can be grown. Cooking Mushrooms: We will experiment with mushrooms in the teaching kitchen, discussing the question of whether mushrooms can replace CO2-intensive foods and, of course, evaluating their taste. This seminar is open not only to students in vocational education programs but also to individuals from Berlin universities, especially those studying in fields like food economics, biology, and nutrition. The seminar is conducted in block sessions with excursions, and the exact dates will be announced later. The dates are subject to change based on the weather, so participation requires some flexibility. The seminar can be taken in both German and English.

Fiona Katherine Smith, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Kultur-, Sozial- und Bildungswissenschaftliche Fakultät, Asien- und Afrikawissenschaften,  

What is photography and how can it be used as a tool for self-representation and documenting history? How do local photographers seek representation and authority in discourses on conflict and social change in Afghanistan? How can visual media be researched dialogically and collaboratively? Following on from the previous semester, the X-Student Research Group begins with a refresher phrase in which new students are introduced to debates surrounding photography and decolonial visual research methods, and are brought up-to-speed on the current status of the projects by the returning students. Over the semester, the students conduct their own research on a self-selected photograph or series, working together with local photographers from the network of Herat-based Angoor Visuals, while being introduced to new methodologies in class. The semester concludes with a multimedia presentation of the visual research outputs which will also be published on Angoor Visuals website. Anthropological experience is desired but not essential as this methodology is discussed in the group and students with existing skills can share them with the others through peer-learning. The X-StuRG is especially suited to students of Area Studies, Ethnology/Anthropology, (Art) History, Social Sciences, Political Sciences, and Media Studies.

Flavia Scoz, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Kultur-, Sozial- und Bildungswissenschaftliche Fakultät, Kunst- und Bildgeschichte

'Eco Art: Brazil and Germany and the Invention of Nature' proposes a reflection on the differences between the Global South and North, focusing on the relationship established between nature and culture. This reflection will mainly analyze Brazilian and German artistic practices related to the concept of Eco Art in order to suggest that the concept of nature can also be culturally constructed. What, after all, do we mean when we talk about nature? The project will last 8 weeks, with weekly 3-hour meetings. It is divided between readings, debates, lectures with guest researchers and visits to research centers and laboratories of artistic practices based in Berlin that are dedicated to themes related to the project. The course is available to students from all fields of knowledge and researchers interested in Eco Art practices, Nature and Culture, Feminist Theories, Decolonialism and Indigenous Art Projects. There are no prerequisites.  

Dr. Aletta Diefenbach; Dr. Gesa Jessen, Freie Universität Berlin, Department of Political and Social Sciences, Sociology

In independently conducted group research, accompanied by us, we aim to explore feminist emotional worlds from a literary and sociological perspective. We seek to understand how feelings are expressed in feminist texts and movements, and what repressive or emancipatory roles are attributed to them. To achieve this, we develop an interdisciplinary perspective on emotions within feminism. Subsequently, we form groups to research affective politics and poetics of queer-feminist positions in selected cases. Students will learn to apply an interdisciplinary research design (interpreting literary texts, collecting and analyzing field data). Finally, a public workshop is planned. This seminar is intended for MA students in the humanities and social sciences who are interested in intensive and interdisciplinary group work and open to excursions.

Felix Rasehorn, Lennart Eigen, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Lebenswissenschaftliche Fakultät, Biologie

In the research group Tessellated Materials Systems (TMS), which is part of the cluster of excellence Matters of Activity, we investigate the transferability of biological tessellation systems into product strategies. In this context, we will explore the following questions with the X-Student Research Group: (1) How can we transfer biological findings into building culture and product design? (2) How can bio-inspired design and research methods be taught in an interdisciplinary context? With this research project we address Bachelor and Master students from Biology and Comparative Morphology, Product- and Textile-Design, and Architecture. Students will get an overview of the current state of bio-inspired research and learn how biological systems are studied qualitatively and quantitatively. We will produce prototypes and models that will be presented in an exhibition.

Dr. Constanze Saunders, Humboldt University of Berlin, Central Institute, ZI: Professional School of Education (PSE)

In this group, you can engage in teaching development research in the field of German as a second language or language education within multiprofessional teams. You will have the opportunity to individually or collectively, along with the group leader and teachers, analyze linguistic challenges and solutions in selected cooperation schools, gaining a deeper understanding of the practice of collegial action research. The target audience consists of teacher education students from all subjects starting from the 5th semester (Bachelor, Master) who already have some practical experience (e.g., internships), have an interest in language learning, and are interested in research in schools. You should be able to work cooperatively in a team and independently carry out tasks. Openness to different perspectives and a willingness for self-reflection are necessary in this setting. Possible research approaches include open classroom observations, the analysis of teaching materials and learning texts, the analysis of interaction in the classroom, or interviews about the self-conception of teachers regarding linguistic diversity and language education. You can work in a transdisciplinary or interdisciplinary and multimethodological manner. - Research interests can be collaboratively communicated, developed, and negotiated within multiprofessional teams, based on respective needs. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the group leader by email (Constanze Saunders).

Brindha Karthikeyan, Freie Universität Berlin, Fachbereich Geowissenschaften

Global Climate is changing due to both natural and anthropogenic drivers which alters the freshwater ecosystem. These changes affect the water cycle including the surface water flows and groundwater recharge. The research group will address some of these issues related to the management of freshwater resources and its adaptation to climate change in the form of case studies and holistic solutions will be devised to address the challenges.  This course is suitable for advanced Bachelor and Masters students from all disciplines who have an interest on the subject e.g. geosciences, chemistry, social sciences, economics etc. Most of the lectures will be offered in English, however the students can conduct and present the results of their research studies in German. The field visits will be offered in German. Willingness to work with interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary team is expected. Nature of the research project will be based on the desired subject specialization and pertaining to which program i.e., Bachelor/ Master. By the end of the course, students will gain key research skills by conducting their own research project and will also learn more about scientific communication. The final output will be presented in a poster session to an invited audience. 

Martin Aleksandrov, Freie Universität Berlin, Fachbereich Mathematik und Informatik, Institut - Informatik

Systems for intelligent fleet management include dispatching emergency ambulances, garbage trucks, firefighting drones, relief-support vehicles, taxi cars, ride-pooling vans, cargo ships, and microtransit minibusses. Such systems must exercise fair and efficient control over vehicles and also make decisions in the face of ethical dilemmas such as those that occur in the trolley problem. In this course, students will put their hands on developing such systems. During the course, students will learn about system design, algorithm design, problem modeling, problem-solving, and decision-making. Course prerequisites are skills in mathematics, programming (e.g. Python, C, Java, C++), statistics (e.g. mean, standard deviation), or ethics. Course activities include normally developing research ideas, individual supervision, team tasks, invited talks, as well as potential conference participation

Marcella Fassio, Freie Universität Berlin, Department of Philosophy and Humanities, German and Dutch Philology (WE 4)

Current discussions on mental illnesses such as depression are shaped by historical medical and literary discourses on conditions like melancholia, neurasthenia, and hysteria. The long-standing tradition of linking gender and mental illness in literature and medicine makes it relevant to explore these historical connections for a better understanding of contemporary literary discussions on mental health. To what extent, then, have literary and medical discussions on mental exhaustion and illnesses been in dialogue since the literary modernist period and the emergence of psychoanalysis? Moreover, what connections or ruptures can be identified in representations from 1900 to the present day? This project, situated at the intersection of literary studies, gender studies, and medical (history), addresses these questions from an interdisciplinary perspective. In this course, we will explore not only literary texts but also medical and psychoanalytic writings to investigate these questions. The project is open to undergraduate and graduate students in literary studies, psychology, medicine (history/ethics), history, as well as individuals with a focus on gender theory in their studies.

Johan Wagner, Philipp Dinkelaker, Johannes Kellnerau, Humboldt University of Berlin, Faculty of Theology

This research seminar, using the example of the Messiah's Chapel in Prenzlauer Berg, aims to take a closer look at how the Berlin church dealt with the 'Jewish Question' during and after the Holocaust. As the headquarters of the 'Berlin Jewish Mission,' the official church coordinated Christian missionary work among Jewish people. Until its closure in 1941 by the Gestapo, the Messiah's Chapel also served as a place of baptism for at least 700 individuals classified as 'non-Aryan' by the Nazi regime. Many of them were subsequently murdered by German perpetrators, without the church refusing allegiance to the regime. In this interdisciplinary research seminar, participants and instructors will discuss previously overlooked aspects of the contradictory history of the Messiah's Chapel during and after the Nazi era based on original sources. Together, they will explore why the memory of this history remains challenging to this day. Participants will critically accompany the development of a memorial site, as planned by the Church District of City Center. This research-based teaching seminar is open to students at all levels of experience and does not require any prior historical knowledge. Tailored to individual interests, students will gain insights into historical source analysis and research techniques that can be valuable in various professional fields.

Jakub Galuszka, Lucas Elsner, Technische Universität Berlin, Fakultät VI - Planen Bauen Umwelt, Architektur

The housing crisis in Berlin has reached unprecedented proportions. The opportunity to secure accommodation is particularly challenging for newcomers. Without the ability to comply with growing financial and administrative requirements, people increasingly rely on informal housing arrangements. The research group dives into this problem and analyses how the new facets of the housing crisis and 'hidden housing markets' unfold in the context of Berlin. Through the combination of methods that will include interviews, mapping and documentation of living conditions and arrangements, we will address this problem and analyse the housing trajectories of newcomers in the city. The research will incorporate methods training, engagement with theory and extended fieldwork phase, including interactions with housing experts and tenants. The course is open for students at the masters level from urban planning, architecture, geography, sociology, anthropology and related disciplines. 

Manish Yadav, Technische Universität Berlin, Fakultät V - Verkehrs- und Maschinensysteme

The project of Physical Reservoir Computing (RC) presents a groundbreaking and unconventional approach to constructing an energy-efficient machine learning method utilizing a physical system, specifically employing a bucket of water. Collaborative efforts among students will encompass machine learning, micro-controller programming, computer vision, and data processing, with the ultimate goal of creating a demonstrator for eco-friendly AI that capitalizes on the intricacies found in nature.   Target group: A broad horizon of different backgrounds and expertise is required for the successful implementation of the project, as it involves deep interdisciplinary research. Degree courses across all disciplines of the natural sciences: mathematics, physics, computer science, engineering, informatics; and across Bachelor and Master level. Students need to have a prior knowledge of computer programming (Python, MATLAB), basic linear algebra and understanding of ML algorithms. A subset of students should be interested in electronics, micro-controller programming and hands-on experimental work.  Why RC? RC has been successfully applied to many computational problems, such as temporal pattern classification, time series forecasting, pattern generation, adaptive filtering and control, and system identification, at the same time providing an environmentally friendly alternative to classical deep learning techniques, holding immense potential for eco-friendly AI.

Lukas Huthmann, Johanna Nickels, Freie Universität Berlin, Department of Law, Criminal Law (WE 2)

The connection between human rights and criminal law, historically conceived as a limitation on state power, is increasingly being viewed as a basis for criminal law in both politics and the legal sphere. Substantial protective and emancipatory functions are attributed to criminal law in both of these realms. This shift has been criticized from a liberal perspective on criminal law, as well as from an intersectional-feminist and decolonial standpoint, due to the actual legal consequences it entails. The research group therefore analytically examines the extent to which and how this transformation can be empirically traced in law and politics, and how it can be normatively assessed from legal and social science perspectives. The research group is aimed at advanced students of law (specialization) and social sciences (from the 4th semester onwards) who are interested in exploring interdisciplinary research.

Dr. Isabel Bredenbröker, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Zentralinstitut, ZI: Hermann von Helmholtz-Zentrum für Kulturtechnik (HZK)

How does time work in a heritage context and what can a queering perspective contribute to challenging normative models of temporality? This group unpacks approaches from the anthropology of art, time and kinship, queer studies and museum studies to understand and co-create queer (non-normative) relations around the collection of the Ethnological Museum Berlin. Our focus lies on time, seeking to offer speculative ways of narrating, making and thinking heritage past, present and futures differently. Looking to the future, engaging with museum objects may help to affirm new intersectional relations. Outside of the realm of representational politics, we will develop and hands-on apply a queer methodology. Through reading and discussing in the classroom alongside research at the museum, participants can develop their own projects for a joint presentation. Participants on MA level (exceptions possible) from all disciplines are welcome!

Dr. Wladimir Neumann,Technische Universität Berlin, Fakultät VI - Planen Bauen Umwelt, Geodäsie und Geoinformationstechnik

This seminar is a continuation of the eponymous seminar offered in the summer term 2023. Its overall scientific topic are physical properties of water-rich asteroids, dwarf planets, and icy moons. Such bodies formed in the early solar system, serve as proxies for Earth´s building blocks, and are targets of multiple space missions. Numerical modeling is an established approach to exploring their properties. The topics of this research seminar comprise processes that can be simulated separately with relatively simple models (e.g., thermal convection, crater relaxation, magnetization of meteorites). You will implement models of such processes, perform stand-alone calculations, and derive and present your results. The course will combine lectures, modeling work in groups, discussions, presentations, and preparation of a paper draft. It is open to students with physical modeling and programming skills (C++, Python, or Matlab) and a background in physics of planetary bodies.

Yiyun Lu, Freie Universität Berlin, Fachbereich Geschichts- und Kulturwissenschaften, Kunsthistorisches Institut (WE 2)   

Myth is a way of being, and it often ushers in a new era, as with the Renaissance and Romanticism. The goal of the seminar is to examine how ancient myths from different cultures have been updated for the modern era in various forms such as literature, painting, film, video game and divination tool (e.g. tarot). In addition to literary and artistic studies, a wide range of epistemological, historical, ethical, social and technical issues (e.g. AI) will be addressed. Unlike a typical seminar, this one gives students the chance to work as researchers on the project while also providing them with knowledge in related fields. Master’s and Bachelor’s students from different cultural backgrounds are welcome, including not only students from literary studies or related disciplines such as art, media studies or social sciences, but also those studying the natural sciences (e.g. computer science). This seminar will be held in English; no previous knowledge is required.

Johannes Schulze Holthausen, Eva-Maria Saliu, Freie Universität Berlin, Department of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Nutrition (WE04)

As part of the X-Student Research Group, we aim to address the general question of whether it is possible to develop a tailored in vitro digestion protocol for determining starch digestion. This protocol will enable us to estimate the nutritional value of plant products and by-products for animal nutrition. Students will work on the in vitro digestion protocol and contribute to its improvement. They will track starch digestion in various phases (oral, gastric, intestinal) to assess the morphology of starch granules from different digested products in different digestion phases. In the end, they will identify which products are suitable for sustainable animal nutrition. Participation is open to veterinary medicine students at FU Berlin who are in their 5th semester or higher. To participate in the research project, students must have a basic understanding of animal nutrition, biochemistry, and physiology.

Bharath Ananthasubramaniam, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Lebenswissenschaftliche Fakultät, Biologie

Near 24h physiological rhythms, called circadian rhythms, are essential to human health and are altered in many pathologies including cancer. Due to the difficulty of repeatedly sampling human tissues, little is known about in-vivo rhythms in human tissues or in tumors.  In this X-Research Group, students will learn to apply a state-of-the-art machine learning algorithm to public transcriptomic data to get an unprecedented first look at clock function in their chosen tumors. Lectures will provide the necessary biological and computational foundations. Students will learn to curate data, test hypotheses, visualize results and contrast insights against the literature on this open research problem. This course targets advanced Bachelor/Master students with at least a strong interest in biology and basic programming knowledge in R/Python. The course will consist of lectures followed by project work (as a block course). Exact schedule will be decided with students at the course start.

Aylin Akyildiz, Marie Duchêne, Technical University of Berlin, Faculty I - Humanities and Educational Sciences, Center for Metropolitan Studies

This research seminar intertwines the question of image and the trash issue raised by residents in a large residential complex in East Berlin, embedding them in current discussions on residential quality. Within this thematic context, the aim of the research seminar is to develop, investigate, and answer our own research questions about the mentioned neighborhood from an external perspective. The research team will approach the study area through city walks, contextualizing what is observed thematically to sharpen the view of urban space. Following aspects deemed exciting, research questions will be developed and explored using appropriate methods.

Paul Cultus, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Philosophische Fakultät, Philosophie

Dao 道 (sometimes written Tao) means path or road and extends to mean methods and principles. It has a broad range of usage across different schools, most obviously philosophical and religious Daoism. In this research group, we will be reading and discussing selections from the foundational texts of Daoism, the Laozi (also known as Daodejing) and the Zhuangzi, and their direct historical and current reception. We will read texts of both religious and philosophical Daoism. Reading suggestions from participants are welcome.  This research group is open to interested bachelor’s and master’s students of all disciplines. Prior engagement with Chinese philosophy is welcome but not required, as we will be starting with the foundational texts.

Carmen Schäuffele, Friederike Fenski, Freie Universität Berlin, Department of Education and Psychology

While the topic of sexuality concerns many people, discussing sexual problems is still a taboo in society. In psychotherapy, the area of sexuality is often avoided. In our group, we aim to investigate the role of sexual well-being or sexual dysfunction in affected individuals and identify potential approaches for an internet-based intervention. We have already conducted interviews with affected individuals. In the upcoming winter semester, further interviews will be conducted, with a focus on the scientific analysis of the results. The group is open to a maximum of 15 students, primarily from psychology and medical programs. Students will conduct interviews, transcribe, analyze, and finalize the results in a scientific paper. The sessions will take place both virtually and in person.